Understanding errors in EIA projections of energy demand
This paper investigates the potential for systematic errors in the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) widely used Annual Energy Outlook, focusing on the near- to mid-term projections of energy demand. Based on analysis of the EIA's 22-year projection record, we find a fairly modest but persistent tendency to underestimate total energy demand by an average of 2 percent per year after controlling for projection errors in gross domestic product, oil prices, and heating/cooling degree days. For 14 individual fuels/consuming sectors routinely reported by the EIA, we observe a great deal of directional consistency in the errors over time, ranging up to 7 percent per year. Electric utility renewables, electric utility natural gas, transportation distillate, and residential electricity show significant biases on average. Projections for certain other sectors have significant unexplained errors for selected time horizons. Such independent evaluation can be useful for validating analytic efforts and for prioritizing future model revisions.
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